Conversations With Amelia…The Words She Will Make

“Can I see those new drawings?” asked Amelia.

“Sure. What do you think?”

Amelia studied them carefully.

“They look very poetic.”

“You think so?”

“The colors are calmer and more contemplative. The lines are lighter and more meandersome.”

“Meandersome? Is that a real word?”

“It is if I make it one.”

“And how do you make it one?”

“By writing it,” she said. Then she paused to give more time for me to consider her words. “We need to be able to write.”

She had thought a great deal about this, just as she does with all important things.

“Of course,” I said. “Can you tell me a little more?”

“We need to be able to write.”

“I think I see now,” I said even though I really didn’t.

“I want to be a writer. And Emily does too.”

“What about if you tell me your stories, and I will write them down? I will put your names on them, not mine.”

“I want to make the words. They don’t have to be story words. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the writing.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not people say, ‘Oh, look at those clever chickens. Aren’t they just the most clever chickens ever?’ In fact, I would be happier if people didn’t even know.

“I want to be a writer. I want to make the words myself.”

“What exactly does ‘make the words’ mean?”

“I want to write poetry.”

“I see. That’s a fine thing to write. And it suits you.”

“You really think so?”

“I know so. There’s no better poet than a traveler like you. More importantly, you have seen the real world not only with your eyes, but with your heart as well.”

“That’s true. I never knew I could see with my heart until I flew to the moon and back. I would have never made it home again if I hadn’t been able to see with my heart. Is that what will make me a good poet?”

“Most definitely. Poets say a great deal with only a few words. You are quite good at that too.”

“I have always been a chicken of few words. Everyone says so.” Amelia’s comb blushed a little.

“Yes, and you choose your words very carefully. Still I do wonder how we will work it out so the two of you can write.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I mean you can’t really hold a pencil or a pen very well.”

“I’m not worried. You will help us.”

“And there is a whole alphabet of letters to learn and then a whole dictionary of words to learn.”

“I’m not worried. You will help us.”

It was pointless to mention any more of the challenges ahead of us. She had won me over, and she knew it.

“Yes, Amelia. I will help you.”

Amelia had believed all along that I would, but she did not take my love for granted. She had faith in me to help her, and so I had faith in her to be a writer, a very special kind of writer, a poet.

“We will find a typewriter for you.”

“Is that a real thing? Not a word you made?”

“It is a real thing. Many great writers of both stories and poems have used a typewriter.”

“How do you use this thing called a typewriter?”

“You do something called ‘hunt and peck.’ That’s all there is to it.”

All of the excitement that Amelia had been holding back, finally exploded with a joyful trill as she leapt into the air.

“I have always been a chicken who is good at both of those things!”

“Then you will be a most excellent poet indeed.”

I looked at the feathers scattered around. They would soon be blown away by the autumn winds, and with them will disappear so many memories of the lives which have given me such joy.

But my Amelia, the poet, will leave me her words, the words she will make.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

This story was inspired by several intersecting coincidences. I had been working on a different style of illustrations which would hopefully be lighter and feel more transient and reflect how I have been feeling about life in general.

Along with that, two of my favorite writers of poetry returned to posting their words on WordPress. Thank you, Will and Roxi and all of the other poets here on WordPress, for giving us more of your words.

My Life With Gracie…Revealing Reflections

Revealing Reflections

“That really doesn’t look so much like me,” said Emily in her most polite yet most matter-of-fact way.

“How can you be so sure? What I mean is, have you ever seen yourself?”

I had expected her to walk away and simply ponder these questions for a while and then forget all about the newest drawing I had made of her. At most, she might ask me to get a mirror so she really could see herself and maybe make her own self-portrait.

But she didn’t do any of those things. She had a ready answer.

“Yes, I have seen myself,” she said with complete certainty.

“Yes?”

“Yes, I see myself everyday when I look at my reflection in Amelia’s eyes. It happens when we are smiling at each other.”

This was a perfect answer because Amelia is Emily’s best friend. Her words had taken me by surprise and warmed my heart at the same time.

“I understand now. Without a doubt, that really is the best way to see yourself. In the eyes of your best friend. I like that.”

Emily smiled. She often smiles when we teach each other something new. She was definitely the teacher this time.

“If that’s how you see me, then I’m fine with it,” she said. “You did a nice job with the background. I look really well camouflaged, just like in real life.”

She was being so careful to keep my artist’s ego intact.

“Just one thing. Please?”

“Of course.”

“Would you work a little more on drawing iridescence?” she said. Her smile reassured me she was not at all bothered by her portrait.

“I will, Emily. I promise. But you know, I was trying to draw you more grown up. You changed a lot over the summer when you started making drawings for yourself. You’re more confident now, but still such a sweet little lady.”

She smiled again in her most charmingly playful way.

You may ask, and rightly so, how do chickens smile? This is a fair question. Anyone who has ever examined a chicken closely knows their beaks are hard and don’t bend or move the way our mouths do when we smile.

I can only recommend spending time with chickens, and then you will learn to recognize their smiles. This may take lots of time, but that is the way it is with most things of value. Eventually you will begin to recognize their smiles and they will recognize yours.

You will also learn the best way to see an image of yourself is just as Emily had said. Your truest portrait is not found in a drawing or painting or even a photograph. It is found in the reflection you will find in the eyes of someone who has called you their friend. No mirror is needed.

There are many things that someone can call you, but I believe “my friend” may be my most favorite one.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Emily) taught me the best way to see myself.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! The reference to iridescence in today’s post is from our most popular post so far this year titled “True Iridescence.”

The biggest “not like Emily” things in this drawing are the feathers around her eyes. That’s not how face feathers grow on a chicken. But I like how drawing them this way emphasizes Emily’s eyes. She does have the biggest and most wide-open eyes of all my chickens. She sees everything! And although drawn incorrectly, they do echo the fall chrysanthemum blossoms in the background.

My Life With Gracie…New Ways Of Looking At The World

A New Way Of Looking At The World

Recently I’ve used some weekend time to experiment with other styles of illustration. This has mainly been driven the realization that any lengthy illustrated book, like a novel, would likely be quite expensive with full-color illustrations. Using black-and-white illustrations only would seem to be the best alternative.

But even so, as you can see in today’s main illustration above, I can’t get away from having at least some color! Even what appears to be black-and-white is actually a warm black-and-white.

When I put a filter over this illustration to make it truly black-and-white as below, it feels to me like some of the “life” went out of the illustration. See what I mean?

For further comparison, below are two different styles of the same basic illustration. On the left is what you would normally see here on “My Life With Gracie.” On the right is a different way of looking at the world, at least the world of my chickens.

Personally, I’m unsure which I prefer. (My chickens like the scratchy texture, but then scratching around is a good part of their day!) Most likely it will depend on the type of story and intended audience.

For me, one thing that really stands out as a major difference is the eyes. On the left, they seem blank and unblinking. On the right, they seem more alive.

Anyway, just wanted to share with everyone what I’ve been thinking about and working on.

Also even though we have finished our little series on “Gracie’s Summer Reading List,” Amelia spotted a book that we didn’t get to read yet. The title? “Amelia Bedilia Unleashed.” If that wasn’t enough to get her attention, the cover also has shiny glitter on it. Chickens love shiny things like glitter.

Thanks for looking and reading!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!